Before getting into our 12 game reports for 2008, I thought I’d get to a topic I meant to cover at the end of the 2009 season.
Tim and I would like to officially induct Jason Phillips into the C&S Hall Of Fame:
As the plaque notes, Phillips gave us baseballs at six different stadiums in 2009. That includes (in order) Camden Yards, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Progressive Field, Safeco Field and Rogers Centre.
Prior to 2009, I did not know much about Phillips. Really, all I knew is that he played first base and catcher for the Mets in 2003 when I saw him hit a home run off of Ryan Franklin in the Mariners first game ever at Shea Stadium. 2003 was the best of Phillips’s seven seasons (2001-2007) in the Major Leagues.
Well, in 2009, the Mariners invited Phillips to Spring Training. When he didn’t make the club, they brought him on to work with the Mariners relievers in the bullpen. And, that is where Tim and I crossed paths with Phillips in 2009.
It all started in Baltimore on June 10, 2009.
It was our first road-Mariners game of the season. Before the game, Tim and I were minding our own business standing next to the Mariners bullpen watching Felix Hernandez warm up for the game…
Here is the baseball from Baltimore…
…shown here with Tim because Camden Yards doesn’t offer Ice Cream Helmets.
Next, we met up with Phillips in the Bronx on July 2, 2009.
It was a great game, the Mariners first win at the new Yankee Stadium. In the ninth inning, Tim and I were sitting right above the Mariners bullpen in section 238 of the bleachers. Phillips and Chris Jakubauskas had a good back-and-forth going with the crowd. Eventually, Phillips grabbed three baseballs and started to toss them all into the crowd. He was looking the other direction when I yelled down his name. He immediately turned and fired a baseball our way.
I then decided I should give Phillips an A-Rod baseball I had with me and wanted to get rid of…
…for the whole story click here. When I motioned down to Phillips to toss him the baseball, he thought I was tossing him a ball for an autograph. He yelled up, “hold on!” He then went and autographed a different baseball and threw it up to me after yelling, “its already signed!” I thanked him for the second ball within about 10 minutes and then tossed him the A-Rod baseball, which gave him a big smile. In retrospect, the A-Rod ball probably was the factor that made Phillips remember us for the rest of the season — so I’m definitely glad I tossed it to him.
Here are our two Phillips balls from the Bronx:
On July 3rd, we walked into Fenway Park with my folks, and saw Phillips standing in RF by the Mariners bullpen. I yelled out his name, he turned and fired a baseball into my glove.
About 10-15 minutes later, Tim and I got down to the first row in the RF corner and called Jason over. He came over and gave me a high five. We chatted about the A-Rod ball from the night before. He told me he put the A-Rod ball in the Pink Back Pack. The next day, we spoke with Chris Jakubauskas, the keeper of the Pink Back Pack, and he confirmed that he had found the A-Rod ball in there.
On July 4th, we didn’t get a baseball from Phillips. But he was walking by us when Erik Bedard tossed us a ball. Phillips pointed us out and laughed at us, as if to say, “you again!” I wondered if he’d cut us off after seeing us get 4 balls in just a couple days.
The answer: No.
On July 5th, we got probably our most memorable baseball from Phillips. As the following diagram shows…
Here are our two Phillips balls from Fenway Park:
Next, we met up with Phillips on August 22, 2009 in Cleveland.
It had been almost two months since we saw him in Boston. I wasn’t sure if he’d remember us. But we saw him before the game and he certainly did remember us. We chatted a bit before he played catch with Felix Hernandez (who was going to pitch the following day).
I prefer catching a ball. But, after he finished playing catch with Felix, I was happy to have Phillips hand-place a ball into my glove just before posing for a picture with me and Tim:
Next, it was back to Seattle, where we met up with Phillips at Safeco Field on September 17, 2009.
We chatted with Phillips a little bit at the beginning of this game. Then, late in the game, he tossed a baseball up to us in section 186 between warming up a slough of Mariners relievers (the M’s ultimately won the game on an Ichiro walk-off single in the 14th inning).
Here is our Phillips baseball from Safeco Field:
Finally, we met up with Phillips for the final time of the season in Toronto on September 26, 2009.
This would be our final Mariners game of the season, and the sixth different stadium at which we’d see the Mariners play in 2009. So I was hoping we could go 6-for-6 in stadiums with Phillips in 2009.
Phillips didn’t disappoint. There was no BP for this weekend day game. But Phillips spotted us when he came out to the field to play catch with a Mariner reliever. He immediately set down his equipment bag and headed over to chat with me. We chatted for a few minutes before he had to go do his job.
We didn’t get a ball from Phillips during pre-game warm-ups, but we did get baseballs from three other Mariners (including a special ball from Ryan Rowland-Smith). That tied our all-time single-game record of 3 baseballs. So, we knew that we’d set a new record if Phillips did end up throwing us a baseball, and after the great season interacting with Phillips, I was delighted with the prospect of him helping us break our 3-ball record.
Ultimately, he did. The game actually ended before it happened. After the game, the Mariners bullpen packed up and started heading to the clubhouse. I yelled down at Phillips. He looked up and saw that the bullpen baseball bag was already gone. So, he ran out into RF and tracked down the baseball bag, which was being carried by David Aardsma. He grabbed a ball out of the bag and threw a long strike right to my chest.
Here is our Phillips baseball from Toronto:
For the season, a big “THANK YOU!” to Jason Phillips. He really made the 2009 season extra special. For going above and beyond the call of duty and being extra cool to me and Tim, we hereby induct Jason Phillips into the C&S Hall of Fame.